Hamburg survived Viking raids, was burned down by Poles in the 11th century, endured Danish raids, was decimated by the Black Death in the 14th century, suffered a major cholera outbreak in the 19th century, numerous fires from Middle Ages through WWII fire-bombings and a major North Sea flood in the 60’s. The city’s resilience to recover ever more prosperous than before is amazing.

Art & Culture

Three of Germany’s major and authoritative media outlets call Hamburg home – Der Spiegel magazine, Die Zeit newspaper and regional broadcaster NDR. As historical testament to the importance the city has always placed on popular culture from theatre and orchestra to plastic art from every period, Club Indra was one of the very first places The Beatles played outside of England during their formative years.


The Elbphilharmonie is one of the world’s largest and acoustically-advanced concert halls. Inaugurated in 2017 as Hamburg’s tallest inhabited building, it unmistakeably juts like a giant glass sail into the natural harbour near the UNESCO World Heritage warehouse district called Speicherstadt. As one of Germany’s leading commercial cities and therefore a target, WWII took a heavy toll and much of the prominent architecture is spectacularly post-modern.


The free Hanseatic city state of Hamburg is Europe’s third-largest port and was in part engineered by damming the River Alster to create two lakes in the city centre near the mouth of the River Elbe. Boasting more canals than Venice, sections of the old city are reminiscent of Amsterdam – especially by boat – and led to the traveller’s nickname of Venice of the North.


The area around modern Hamburg was first noted in Roman geographical records in the 2nd century AD. The city’s name comes from a castle, or Burg, ordered built by Emperor Charlemagne in 808 AD. Because of the port’s natural strategic location and subsequent economic growth and prosperity, Hamburg suffered endless raids, occupations, natural disasters and bore the brunt of wars.

Rebirth and ever ambitious rebuilding followed each wave of Hamburg’s misfortune. The city state is a marvel of unrivalled urban canalization, is home to the world’s oldest merchant bank and Germany’s oldest stock exchange. Hamburg’s Teflon resilience and noteworthy recovery from disasters before and after world wars is a modern model. It ranks today in the top-20 highest qualities of city living.